Epinephelus spilotoceps (Foursaddle grouper)


The foursaddle grouper, Epinephelus spilotoceps, is one of the grouper species with hexagonal spots, that merge on the back and form dark saddles. This species specifically has four such saddles on the anterior part of the back. The body has a light undercolor and is covered in hexagon spots, varying in brown color and with light blotches. They also have large, dark eyes. They live solitary


Stated as Least Concern according to the IUCN Red list, because of its very widespread distribution throughout the islands of the tropical Indo-West Pacific region. It is not a particularly large grouper and therefore perhaps less interesting as a food source. The exception here is in the Maldives live food fish trade, where it is one of the species taken, though not one of the top ten grouper species in this fishery. Elsewhere it is less prominent in the species caught for food.


Epinephelus spilotoceps can be found throughout the Indi-Pacific; from the Eastern African coast to the Line Island in the Eastern Central Pacific, and from the South China Sea to Western Australia. They prefer lagoons,  patch reefs and channels. Foursaddle groupers are specifically found in shallow water around islands, a so-called insular species, in a depth range of 1-20 meters.



Up to 35 cm.

Prey / Predation

Foursaddle groupers are carnivorous, feeding on other small fish, crabs, and worms.

Special features

E. spilotoceps looks very much like E. hexagonatus and E. melanostigma, but the number of saddles vary in the different species.